The Perfect Machine
Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Lance Letscher: The Perfect Machine.
Letscher harvests defaced textbooks, children’s readers, vintage album covers, magazine clippings, handwritten notes, recipe cards, business ledgers, and other bits of found paper from closeout bins, yard sales and the dumpster behind a nearby used book and record store in his native Austin. In his studio, the artist winnows through and organizes these odds and ends, cuts them into strips and shapes and then pieces together the scraps of paper into remarkable collages.
Letscher’s works are largely abstract and characterized by dense texture, color and pattern. They are rich and vigorous and compellingly complex. The formal appeal of the work is enriched by the memories and emotional associations evoked by the artist’s raw materials. Fragmented illustrations and dissected words and phrases hint at potential narratives. Collectors of his art tend to be passionate about it and frequently cite its honesty and the rewards it offers to prolonged and repeat viewing.
Letscher is inspired by Outsider Art and the Gee’s Bend quiltmakers, as well as three Austrian artists - Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Friedensreich Hundertwasser - but has few direct influences from the history of collage and assemblage. And as his interests and skills develop over time, Letscher’s work has evolved notably.
“…One thing you learn quickly when searching for ‘rules’ in Letscher’s work is that no sooner do you think you have uncovered one than you find it contradicted,” writes Charles Dee Mitchell in his introduction to the recent monograph Lance Letscher: Collage.
Creating a 9 x 12 foot collage commissioned for the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas is an experience that Letscher credits with shaping his latest body of work.
“I started thinking about kids as my audience,” Letscher said. “It started to influence the vocabulary I was using.”
The works in The Perfect Machine reflect this shift to a “storybook perspective.” Letscher’s colorful and dazzling abstractions have expanded to include more recognizable forms and childhood imagery. Fittingly, the exhibition at Eight Modern coincides with the publication of a children’s book written and illustrated by the artist, also entitled The Perfect Machine, about a young inventor’s quest to figure out the perfect machine.
“It used to be all chance and discovery,” Letscher said. “Now I am orchestrating what I want, instead of what I have happened to find.”
Letscher was trained as a printmaker and ran the wood-shop at the University of Texas art school, where he received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. He attracted notice in the 1980s Dallas art scene for his small sculptures of wood and marble, before transitioning to drawing and then collage.
He has been exhibited throughout the United States, as well as in Paris, Berlin, Munich, Barcelona, London and Poland. In 2004, a solo retrospective of the artist’s work entitled Books and Parts of Books: 1996-2004 traveled to four museums.
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